Charity Comms brand development conference

This event was attended by Kate, our Head of Comms. These are her notes, here’s where to follow her on Twitter.

Are you ready for what’s coming next? (Trends affecting charity brands)

Marie Stafford, European director, Innovation Group, JWT Intelligence

Mobile (of course). By 2020, 90% of people aged over six will have their own mobile.

More corporates are building ‘doing good’ into their purpose (eg Toms shoes). This could mean they are encroaching on the charity space (if people can feel they are making a difference through making a certain purchasing choice, why do they need to give to/support a charity?) – but could also create opportunities.

Adventure and experience above ‘things’. Brands are using virtual reality to give people immersive experiences and bring issues to life in people’s worlds.

‘Me brands’ – people now see themselves as brands and like to be able to play around with your brand – personalise, create their own. Encouraging creativity in your audience will lead to deeper engagement. Give people a sense of it being their story.

Changing relationships with celebrities. People are less convinced by the glossy view of celebrity and want things to be more authentic eg this Beyonce video filmed on a GoPro. Related to this is the rise and rise of social media celebs. And the use of non-celebrity stories that are real and relatable. Celebrities are also restyling themselves as thought leaders and lifestyle brands, seeking deeper influence – this presents interesting partnership opportunities, as in helping build your brand they’re also building their own.

Commerce and content are converging. Cue: ‘Shoptainment’ and ‘Givetainment.’ i.e. people are expecting interesting/engaging/entertaining content from brands.

Ruthless simplicity. Eg Airbnb, Uber.

Agelessness. People are living much longer and those in their 50s and 60s are the ‘elastic generation’ – putting people in buckets according to their age is becoming less relevant. Targeting mindset rather than demographics has more meaning.

What can charities learn from the superbrands?
Kate Eden, Head of Brand at CRUK

Superbrands were characterised as brands with an exceptional scale of influence:

  • Embraced by millions
  • Part of popular culture/everyday life
  • Challenge or provoke us
  • Bring us with them
  • We love being part of their community
  • We want to share in their community

CRUK’s ‘stretch ambition’ is to become the nation’s most influential brand. The want to be more talked about than The Great British Bake Off (why is baking a cake more important than curing cancer?); more involving than Marmite (why is whether you love or hate a yeast extract more talked about?).

The lessons they have taken from the superbrands are:

  1. Single minded focus. Eg Coke – Happiness. Beat Cancer Sooner is CRUK’s absolute brand essence.
  2. Brand-driven strategy.
  3. Living the brand beliefs. These are ‘United we’re stronger than cancer’, ‘Sharp minds and brave hearts win’, and ‘Our stories change the world.’ They have ‘Belief Week’ with workshops and guest speakers, and awards – sharp mind/brave heart/best storyteller of the year.
  4. Powerful emotion. CRUK have to reflect dark days and loss. Also defiance, eg in their youth campaign ‘Smoke this’. Tenacious optimism. Celebration – including my last chemo, my first holiday after the all clear as well as achievements of the organisation. This often involves a difficult balance – any communication is going to be seen by cancer patients and people who have lost someone.
  5. Relentless self-improvement. They have a challenger brand mentality. Their aim is to double the rate of progress – this means everything they do has to be twice as good.
  6. Disruption and challenge.
  7. Audience co-creation. They are developing an app for people to play with their logo and put their photo in the ‘C’. Then they will look to monetise this – buy it on a mug, a T-shirt…
  8. Riding the zeitgeist. (Newsjacking).
  9. Iconic logo. They talk about the ‘C-flex’ – playing with the logo to tell different stories. If you put ‘CRUK C’ into Google images you’ll see some neat examples.
  10. Smart collaboration. They have an internal creative hub and try to gather all creative partners together as a community.

The force awakens: strategies to help brands compete
Max DuBois, Spencer DuBois

  1. Charity trust falling, corporate trust rising.

Brands aren’t getting the trust message across because they’re not putting vision and mission at the front and centre of their brands. They are focusing too much on preference – why choose me rather than why trust me.

WaterAid fundraising campaigns lock in to their core vision and mission, and they use fundraising events as an entry point to talk about everything they do.

  1. The number of charities – now more than 164,000.

One or two charities become ‘ubers’ (eg CRUK). There are small specialists at the bottom. Most are in the ‘squeezed middle’, and it’s becoming harder and harder to compete with both ends.

It’s vital to carve out your territory. Sometimes it can be helpful to come together with others in the squeezed middle to create a niche/new proposition together.

And more and more important in this context to ‘brand better – say it better and more engagingly’.

  1. Hyperconnected world.

People are overhyping the short term impact of technology and underestimating the long term effect. He sees charities just using digital as another channel and taking the approach of ‘just putting our print stuff online’, then using their brand as a wrapper to squeeze things together and create coherence, or, better, using brand as a ‘supercharger’ to bring all channels alive. But these are still all in the broadcast mode, and not about real engagement. He talked about redefining brands from ‘I’ to ‘You’. Delight, engage and inspire people. Coproduce, draw on everyone’s collective wisdom to create the brand they want.

The importance of using brand to create preference so that they’ll engage when they’re ready. “A little sub brand which doesn’t lead to anything will not be helpful.”

Consistency and repetition are key – you may be saying something for the 1000th time but someone is hearing it for the first. Have a long term strategy, not just campaign by campaign.

A brand platform for delivering campaigns – Age UK
Beverley Sullivan, Senior Brand Identity Manager, Age UK

They repositioned their brand from ‘Improving later life’ to ‘Love later life’. Just one word change makes it much more emotional and engaging and challenges perceptions of older age.

One of the drivers for this was that they were seen as being there for the minority – even older people didn’t think it was for them. They are working against actively negative attitudes towards getting older.

They were used to communicating in a rational way, not engaging emotionally.

During this process they segmented audiences by attitudes towards age rather than by demographic or actual age:

  • Surviving
  • Supporting
  • Enjoying
  • Denying
  • Overlooking

Their vision: “Together, we can create a world where everyone can love later life.”

They broke this into three strands to make it meaningful:

  • We encourage individuals to love their later lives
  • We help more people to love later life
  • We want everyone to love those in later life.

Their love later life brand ad was followed up by the ‘No one should have no one’ campaign, then #notbymyselfie – to give them a position against something. It also tapped into the fear younger people have of growing old alone.

It’s critical that they always show older people with dignity, not looking sad or ill.

As part of the repositioning they created a banner for their offices to ‘give staff one thing to hang their hat on’, saying: “Today you’ll give hope to someone with nowhere else to turn.” They saw the number of staff who also took up volunteering rise threefold.

‘Love later life’ gave them a broader range of emotions and meant they could get a bit more fun in community fundraising eg ‘The Big Chinwag – it’s the mother of all natters’.

After the reposition they got a pitch from an ad agency to do this great ‘No Friends’ campaign pro bono in direct response to the Facebook ‘Friends’ ad campaign.

Brands that unleash the Good in people
Dan Dufour, The Good Agency

He also talked about the convergence of commercial and charity brands around doing good in the world as corporates increasingly build social purpose into their brands.

Unilever are now reporting on a triple bottom line – increasing social impact and reducing environmental impact as well as £. They are seeing increasing growth in the brands which have social purpose built in.

Again the risk for charities is that they could become less relevant if people feel they can do good with their purchasing decisions. So it’s more important that charities give people something back in return.

Give people a role in the brand story – audiences want more for their support. Just communicating purpose and impact isn’t enough, people want reward and enrichment.

Create a great experience, belonging, community.

Value exchange – eg RSPB gave away a booklet about how to make your garden a nature haven in exchange for contact details.

Generation Z are deeply concerned with ethics and are the most digitally engaged generation.

Kicking up a ComMotion
Alex Batchelor, chief operating officer, Brainjuicer

He showed a lot of ads – the ‘world’s best ads of 2014’, those which tapped in to emotions performed the best.

He then covered off some behavioural science around drivers of decisions and the fact that we are much less rational than we think we are. (if you’re interested in this read Daniel Kahnemann’s Thinking Fast and Slow). Powerful factors in decision making are:

  • Framing (the context in which we’re making a decision)
  • Copying (what we see others doing)
  • Feeling

Framing is powerful – making it easy to take an action can be more important than making it interesting!

According to Brainjuicer’s research into ads, for charities, happiness is the strongest predictor of in-market effectiveness. If you need to use negative emotions you then need to resolve them.

Commercial brands have found that going ‘all emotion’ in advertising has been much more effective than ‘the iron fist of message in the velvet glove of emotion’.

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